How to conduct a systematic literature review?
A systematic literature review is a comprehensive, transparent, and critical evaluation of the existing literature on a specific research question. It involves the following steps:
- Formulate a clear research question: The first step in conducting a systematic literature review is to clearly define the research question that you want to answer. The research question should be specific, concise, and focused.
- Develop a search strategy: The next step is to develop a search strategy that will be used to identify relevant studies. This involves selecting relevant databases, keywords, and other search terms.
- Search for relevant studies: The next step is to search the databases using the developed search strategy. The search should be comprehensive and should aim to identify all relevant studies, regardless of their findings.
- Screen studies for inclusion: The next step is to screen the studies that have been identified to determine which ones meet the inclusion criteria. Inclusion criteria should be pre-defined and should reflect the research question.
- Extract data from included studies: The next step is to extract relevant data from the studies that have been included. This may include information on the study design, population, interventions, outcomes, and results.
- Assess the quality of included studies: The next step is to assess the quality of the included studies. This involves evaluating the risk of bias in the studies and determining their reliability.
- Synthesize the evidence: The final step is to synthesize the evidence by summarizing the findings from the included studies and drawing conclusions based on the evidence.
It is important to note that conducting a systematic literature review can be a time-consuming and complex process, and it is important to be systematic and transparent in all steps of the process. It is also important to be aware of the limitations of the literature and to acknowledge any biases or gaps in the evidence.
What is a living systematic review? A living systematic review is a dynamic, ongoing process that continuously updates and incorporates new evidence as it becomes available. Unlike a traditional systematic review, which is conducted once and then published, a living systematic review is updated regularly and can be accessed online at any time. The aim of a living systematic review is to provide an up-to-date and comprehensive summary of the evidence on a specific topic.
Advantages of a living systematic review
- Timeliness: One of the biggest advantages of a living systematic review is that it is always up-to-date. As new evidence becomes available, it is quickly incorporated into the review, ensuring that the information is always current and relevant. This is particularly important in rapidly evolving fields where new evidence is constantly being produced.
- Relevance: A living systematic review is tailored to specific populations and populations of interest, making it more relevant to the needs of clinicians, researchers, and policy-makers. This is because a living systematic review is updated regularly to reflect new evidence and new populations, ensuring that it remains relevant to the needs of its target audience.
- Flexibility: A living systematic review is flexible in that it can be updated as new evidence becomes available, rather than being limited by the publication cycle of a journal. This allows for a more comprehensive and up-to-date synthesis of the available evidence.
- Improved transparency: A living systematic review is transparent in its methodology and results, making it easier for readers to understand the process and the evidence behind the conclusions. This increased transparency also allows for greater accountability, as it is easier for others to verify the results and methodology of the review.
- Collaboration: A living systematic review encourages collaboration between researchers and stakeholders, as it allows for input and feedback from multiple sources. This collaboration can lead to more comprehensive and robust reviews, as well as improved communication between researchers and stakeholders.
In conclusion, a living systematic review offers several advantages over traditional systematic reviews. Its dynamic, ongoing nature makes it more relevant, timely, flexible, transparent, and collaborative. As such, a living systematic review can provide a more comprehensive and up-to-date summary of the available evidence on a specific topic, making it an important tool for clinicians, researchers, and policy-makers.